How reliable is the vomer flap in early hard palate repair?

J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2017 Jun;70(6):828-832. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2017.02.026. Epub 2017 Mar 10.


Hard palate closure with a vomer flap at the time of lip repair has been widely adopted. A recent study by Deshpande et al. showed a high rate of failure of the vomer flap and led the authors to abandon the technique. We conducted a retrospective study of vomer flap healing in a consecutive series of cases performed by the senior author (D.O.). The case records of 71 patients who underwent repair of unilateral cleft lip and palate with a vomer flap at the time of lip repair were studied. Vomer flap healing was assessed and documented by the senior author at the time of definitive palate closure, and this was recorded. Adequate records were available for 66 cases. Twelve patients (18%) had associated syndromes and were included in the analysis. The median age at the time of lip and vomer flap repair was 3.5 months, and that at the time of palate repair was 8 months. At definitive palatoplasty, the vomer flap was intact in 62 patients (94%). Four patients (6%) had partial or complete failure of the vomer flap. All failures occurred in cases where the vomer flap was sutured directly to the nasal mucosa, a technique since abandoned in favour of double-breasting the flap to the raw surface of the oral mucosa. Five patients had incomplete healing of the palate following definitive palatoplasty, two of whom had a previous vomer flap failure. Contrary to Deshpande et al., we found the vomer flap to be highly reliable in closing the hard palate at the time of primary lip repair.

Keywords: Cleft lip and palate; Hard palate; Maxillary growth; Speech outcomes; Vomer flap.

MeSH terms

  • Cleft Lip / surgery*
  • Cleft Palate / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Palate, Hard / surgery*
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / adverse effects
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / methods*
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surgical Flaps*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vomer
  • Wound Healing